What does play look like?

During one of our lectures we considered what play looks like. As a group we collated ideas to create an ‘Island of play’, showing some of the key elements we thought helped shape and define play. This included giving children the freedom to explore and investigate, challenging children through play and children challenging themselves to allow new learning to take place. It is fun and exhilarating as enjoyment is often associated with play. There are different environments play can take place in, both indoors and outdoors, where sources of inspiration can vary. Play can take place in solitude or in groups, where children participate in social play. We had a discussion as to whether adults can be part of a child’s play, as ‘adult-led/directed’ activities are often seen as being something that the child has to do, as they are planned activities, which contradicts the freedom element of play which can make it so enjoyable and fun for children. However, we thought that resources can be provided to allow for play to take place, after which the adults can scaffold the child’s thinking during play through careful and sensitive prompting and questioning, to enable children to perhaps learn at a deeper level. An image of our group poster, ‘Play Island’ can be seen below.1398340563859

 

ICT Session 3 – Reflection on session and using speech-to-text software to capture a story

Using speech-to-text software to capture a story…

During our third ICT session we worked in our groups, using the characters and background scene that we created in our art session to create an e-book. The e-book created, as well as the process involved with making it, are detailed in the previous post. Our jungle story did use some speech-t0-text software as we audio recorded the narrative over the photographs. I really liked using Doodlecast Pro, but wanted to try using different software and combining them by layering apps, still using speech-to-text as the method of storytelling.

I created Charlie’s story initially using the ‘Book Creator for iPad’ software. I took a series of photographs and pasted these on the pages of the book. I liked this programme as it allowed me to draw on top of the photographs, like Doodlecast Pro, to add other elements to the story and create a nice visual effect with the combination of photographs and animated drawings. You can add videos, text and sound with this software as well as photos, however as I wanted to experiment with layering apps, I transferred screen shots of my e-book so far into another programme, ‘Story Maker’. This uses PowerPoint to create a story. Once my pictures were in the correct order in PowerPoint, I added in audio recordings, using speech-to-text to create the narrative to go with the pictures. This was simple to do, however it was slightly more time consuming using two programmes as it took a while to save and transfer the screen shots from one to the other.

I have uploaded my final story to the shared resource repository.

How this could be used to enhance teaching and learning in the early years…

By combining pictures with text, it makes stories that children have written more meaningful to them rather than if they were to write text only. By completing this on the computer, it makes it more accessible to all children as they can use photographs and edit these, helping them to achieve a better final result, motivating and encouraging them to engage in their learning. By using speech-to-text to create a narrative for their story, children can focus on telling their story rather than concentrating on their writing and spelling which often limits children’s ability to express themselves as it can inhibit their flow of thought. Using pictures as a starting point helps children to plan, sequence and clarify their ideas, helping them to create a well structured story with a clear beginning, middle and end. It might be too challenging for children to combine the use of different software, so it may be more appropriate to use the ‘Story Maker’ and ‘Book Creator for iPad’ software separately.

This has several links with the EYFS, in particular Communication and Language, Understanding The World: Technology and Creative Expressive Arts and Design, as children are using the speaking and listening skills when telling and listening to others’ stories, using simple programs to create their e-book and expressing their thoughts, feelings and ideas creatively by creating their own story using different mediums.

By allowing children to use digital technology it increases their learning potential and can provide them with more independence, choice and control over their learning (Johnson, 2013). This helps children to become more critical thinkers, one of the underlying principles of the EYFS, outlined in the characteristics of effective learning.

References:

Early Education (2012) Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). London: DfE.

Johnson, B, (2013) How the iPad can transform classroom learning [online]. Edutopia. Available from: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/ipads-transform-classroom-ben-johnson [Accessed 17.12.13].

Art Session 3 – Creation of a short e-book and how it could support learning in the classroom

Creation of the e-book…

During the art session we worked in a group of 4 to create the characters and background scene for our e-book. Myself and Ellen created a jungle scene for the background using different printing techniques and materials.

Firstly, we created a blue background for the sky. This involved using a small amount of paint that was specifically for printing, putting this in a tray and spreading it over the entire surface using a roller. We then transferred the paint from the tray to the table, spreading it as evenly as possible over an area large enough to cover our paper. We then put our paper over the paint and used a clean roller to press down. When finished there were some lighter patches, however this created a nice effect. Rebecca explained that you could use ordinary paints if schools did not have printing paints, and adding a small amount of PVA helps the paint adhere well to the paper or printing block when printing.

We then printed onto the background to create our jungle scene. This involved both positive and negative printing, using the same principle as above (rolling the paint on a tray and transferring it to the table for printing). We created our own printing templates for the leaves, tree, flowers and sun.

Molly and Jess created the characters for our story using air-dry clay, making a Mummy and baby elephant. They had to mould the clay and connect the different pieces of their character together. They did this using slip, which is a ‘glue’ for clay that is made by creating a small thumb pot with the clay, filling it with water and using a paintbrush to get some water from the side of the pot. They had to use tools to cross hatch the areas being joined together to help the slip adhere to the clay.

Once our characters and background scene were completed, we used the I-pad to create our e-book. We decided what our story would be about, and took a series of five photographs to illustrate it: the Mummy and baby elephant went on a walk in the jungle, but the baby elephant got lost, so the monkey helped him to find his Mummy when he saw he was upset, reuniting them at the end! We decided to use the software Doodlecast Pro to create our e-book as this enabled us to use our own photographs, draw on top of them to create new characters and add in other elements, as well as create a narrative by combining the photographs with audio recorded talk. To create the e-book we transferred our photos into the software, drew other elements on top of some of the photos, for example the monkey character and tears from the baby elephant, and then recorded the narrative. A final version of our e-book can be seen below.

How this could be used to support learning in the classroom…

The software was easy and quick to use and could definitely be used by young children, with some support from an adult, to enable them to create their own stories. The lovely thing about this software was the ability to use your own photos and the ability to quickly edit them by adding drawings. The contrast between the photographs and animated drawings created a lovely visual effect that could be discussed with the children, and used as a stimulus for their own artwork. As the narrative was audio recorded, this would be perfect for young children as there would be no writing to inhibit their flow of thought, it would be quick to complete helping to keep them engaged and focused and it would encourage talk for writing that could be used as a strategy when planning their own written stories.

The software could also be used by slightly older children when planning a longer piece of writing, helping them to structure and sequence their thoughts and ideas through photographs and plan their writing by audio recording it first (talk for writing). They could play this back when writing a final draft to use as a prompt for themselves.

Doodlecast Pro could be used during circle time with young children or in a shared or guided writing session. The teacher could take some photographs before the session around a specific theme or non-related images. The I-pad could then be passed round the class, with the children working individually or in pairs to audio record their part of the story relating to the picture they had been given. The story could then be played back when completed. As an extension, the teacher could ask the children for suggestions on how they could improve the story, for example adding in more characters or changing one part such as the ending.

The e-book that we created as a group could be used in the classroom to support learning in many ways and link with several areas of learning in the EYFS.

Links could be made with Personal, Social and Emotional: Managing feelings and behaviour, as the children could discuss how the characters are feeling at different points in the story, for example, the contrast of how the baby elephant felt when he lost his Mummy and then when he was reunited with her. This activity could be carried out during circle time using ‘hot seating’ to allow the children to empathise with the characters’ feelings or by writing words in thought bubbles next to drawings they had done themselves of the characters. This would link with part of the early learning goal for this area of learning… Children talk about how they and others show feelings.

Links could also be made with Communication and Language. When being told the story and having discussions about it as a group afterwards, this would link with the ‘Listening and Attention’ early learning goal… Children listen attentively in a range of situations. They listen to stories, accurately anticipating key events and respond to what they hear with relevant comments, questions or actions. They give their attention to what others say and respond appropriately, while engaged in another activity. The children’s ability to listen to the story could be tested by printing pictures of the different parts, and getting them to sequence them in the correct order. Children could also add their own narrative to the story, by audio recording another version. This would have links with elements from the ‘Speaking’ early learning goal… They develop their own narratives and explanations by connecting ideas or events.

Links could also be made with Physical Development: Moving and Handling. The children could develop their fine motor skills by creating their own character to add into the story, or create a model of the monkey. This could be done with different malleable materials such as clay, playdough or salt dough. If using salt dough the children’s characters could be baked and then decorated with paints and other mediums. This would link with the following statements… • Uses simple tools to effect changes to materials. • Handles tools, objects, construction and malleable materials safely and with increasing control. The children could also develop their gross motor skills, by creating large movements in a dance session linked to this story, allowing the children to explore the different movements that jungle animals may make, for example elephants, monkeys, tigers and giraffes. This would link with the following statement… • Experiments with different ways of moving.

Health and self-care within physical development could also be linked with the story. Different exotic fruits that come from hot places like the jungle could be brought in for the children to try. This would link in with talking about healthy and un-healthy foods, perhaps sorting foods into different categories. The children could have a go at chopping these fruits which would also help develop their fine motor skills. This would link with the following statement… Eats a healthy range of foodstuffs and understands need for variety in food.

There would be clear links with literacy, in both reading and writing, as the children could look at reading other jungle stories to provide inspiration for their own stories.

There are strong links between this story and Understanding the World, in particular ‘The World’. The children could begin by looking at the similarities and differences (‘What’s the same? What’s different?) between their home and the jungle. They could draw pictures of both and label some of these differences perhaps. They could also look at where hot and cold countries are positioned on the globe. The environment and the importance of taking care of it and looking after jungles could be discussed, creating posters about this in groups. This would link with the following statements… • Shows care and concern for living things and the environment. • Looks closely at similarities, differences, patterns and change. The children could have a go at creating their own story using the Doodlecast Pro software, which would have obvious links with ‘Technology’ and following statements… • Completes a simple program on a computer. • Uses ICT hardware to interact with age-appropriate computer software.

Finally, links could be made with Expressive Arts and Design. Children could ‘Explore and use media and materials’ through art and design, for example creating the setting for their own story using different mediums, tools and looking at printing, or music for example exploring the sounds of different instruments to create a music composition of the ‘sounds of the jungle’. This would link with the following statements… • Explores the different sounds of instruments.  They safely use and explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques, experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and function. Children could act out the story, as well as other jungle stories that the class had read, in the role play area. As an extension, children could change parts of the story and perhaps act out a different ending. This would have links with ‘Being Imaginative’ and the following statements…  They represent their own ideas, thoughts and feelings through design and technology, art, music, dance, role play and stories.

When I began to look at the different ways the story could be used to support learning, I realised that there were lots of possibilities and these are only a selection of ideas. After considering this, I feel that thematic planning around one source such as a story book is a great source for inspiring ideas that can be linked with all of the areas of learning within the EYFS.

Inclusion of all children…

To ensure inclusion of all children, the activities are fairly open and simple, making them accessible to most children. To ensure they were appropriately challenging for more able children, they could often be extended. For example, changing the end of the story when acting it out in the role play area.

It is believed that children who find mainstream education and conventional methods of teaching non-accessible, find Art and Design work that incorporates the use of ICT extremely engaging and motivating. They often prefer the process of completing work through ICT, with quicker and easier methods of editing work available. This motivation can then be transferred to Art and Design projects away from the computer, but using similar methods of working and ideas that they found worked well for them (NSEAD, 2004).

 

References:

Early Education (2012) Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). London: DfE.

NSEAD (2004) Advocacy – ICT in Art and Design [online]. NSEAD. Available from: http://www.nsead.org/ict/about/about11.aspx [Accessed 17.12.13].

ICT Session 2 – Computer programming and its use in the classroom

How programming can be used in the classroom…

Computer programming can be used at different levels within the classroom depending on the age range and abilities of the children. During our second ICT session we investigated how this could be done by exploring different software packages and resources to come up with a range of activities for the classroom, both on and away from the computer, considering how this could be useful and applicable to real life situations. Working in a pair with Jess we came up with three linked activity ideas; a computer based ‘maze’ game that we each had a go at creating (plugged activity), translation of this to a classroom activity without the use of computers (unplugged) and an activity that applied these skills to the real-world. We uploaded our ideas to the shared resource repository.

Here is a link to the Forest Maze game that I created using the 2 simple software, ‘Do It Yourself’, using the ‘Maze’ programme which I accessed through the website, Purple Mash. The process of creating the game involved setting out the maze by placing the bricks on the page to create a path, creating an avatar, importing obstacles and collection points and writing instructions for the user. This was the ‘plugged activity’ that we thought children could use in the classroom. The software was quite difficult to use so this may be more suitable for upper KS2 children. However, it could be used with younger children if completed as an adult led activity with small groups of children helping the teacher create the maze.

This game used ‘directional programming’, therefore this theme could be used nicely with a non-computer based activity (‘unplugged’) and was easy to apply the skills to real-life. We thought the children could work in pairs, taking it in turns to direct each other to a certain location within the classroom or outside environment, navigating obstacles. This would involve using positional language such as two steps forward.

For the real-life application, we thought it would be a nice idea for the children to create a map of their school’s surrounding location, perhaps the village that it is situated in. The children could go on a walk of the surrounding area before completing this activity to familiarise themselves with local amenities and their locations, taking pictures to help them draw their maps. They could then create a whole class map, or individual maps, using a key to label important destinations, that could be displayed in a communal area for visitors to look at. As an extension for this activity, they could write, or audio record (for lower ability children), directions to certain locations from their school, for example how to get to the park.

Another idea that I liked which was shared and used by other groups in the session, was using bee-bots by either programming them to follow a given path or creating your own path. This ties in very well with instructions and positional language so would have benefits on many areas of learning, including Mathematics, Literacy and Communication and Language. This idea would be accessible for most children, as school’s generally have access to bee-bots and it is fairly simple for children to explore and use independently.

Another nice idea is the ‘How to train your robot game’. This was created by a computer programming student who believes that programming is an essential skill that all children should be taught from a young age. They teach this game to children which involves, providing them with a robot language dictionary (shown below), which has symbols for different commands, for example upwards arrow with dot on right side for the command ‘left leg forward’. The idea is that children work together, with each other or other adults, with one writing a programme that is to be followed by the other in order to complete tasks such as navigating an obstacle course to collect a ball and bring it back to the start. As an extension, this activity could be carried out in reverse by video recording a child navigating round an obstacle course, and getting the other child to write the corresponding programme using the dictionary.

What learning is involved with programming and links with the EYFS…

Children use ‘computational thinking’ frequently when away from the computer, both at home and in school, so this is a good starting point before using programming and other computer software. For example, sorting items such as toys, socks, or wooden blocks and following or giving a set of instructions are all examples of computational thinking that most children do on a daily basis. These skills can be directly linked with, and applied, through computer programming. As a step towards doing this, unplugged activities such as ‘Simon Says’ , following the teacher’s direction in P.E and songs such as ‘Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ can be carried out. Links with control in the environment can also be made, for example lights in a fridge, a room thermostat and a pelican crossing.

This type of thinking has links with several areas of learning within the EYFS.

Communication and Language: Understanding… giving and receiving instructions is a key part of computational thinking and programming as you are telling something or someone what and how to do something.

Early Learning Goal: Children follow instructions involving several ideas or actions.

Communication and Language: Speaking… children have to communicate with others when giving and receiving instructions.

Early Learning Goal: Children express themselves effectively, showing awareness of listeners’ needs.

Physical Development: Moving and Handling… when carrying out activities such as the ‘How to train your robot game’ and using bee bots, this involves the children moving around, and using their fine motor skills when writing instructions or manipulating the buttons to program the bee-bot.

Early Learning Goal: Children show good control and co-ordination in large and small movements. They move confidently in a range of ways, safely negotiating space. They handle equipment and tools effectively, including pencils for writing.

Literacy: Reading and Writing… when writing and reading instructions that they have made or are following.

Mathematics: Shape, Space and Measure and Numbers… when following instructions, children may use mathematical positioning language, such as ‘in front’ behind’, and it may involve counting the number of steps needing to be taken.

Understanding the World: Technology… using simple programs and software on the computer to complete ‘plugged’ activities.

Expressive Arts and Design: Being imaginative… children can use computer programs and computational thinking to express themselves and come up with creative and original ideas.

What is the need for children to learn programming in the classroom?…

One of the arguments as to why programming should be taught in the classroom is that, with the increasing number of technologies available to children, they need to feel in control and understand the things they are using. Some people believe it is not sufficient for children just to be able to use computers and existing programmes, as they are not being able to express themselves by doing this; it is like being able to read, but not be able to write (Chaplin, 2012). ICT taught in schools in the past has focused on teaching children how to use different programmes and software, ignoring the ‘computer science’ aspect, how computer’s work. As computers are becoming an increasingly integral part of society, some people believe it is important for younger generations to understand how they work, as some children are likely to be involved in this aspect of ICT in their future careers (Naughton, 2012).

I found a useful video, Let’s teach kids to code, that outlines how programming can be used and the benefits of teaching children basic programming skills.

References:

Chaplin, H. (2012) Introducing Programming to Preschoolers. 23 February 2012. Mind Shift. [online]. Available from: http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2012/02/introducing-programming-to-preschoolers/ [Accessed 05.12.13].

Early Education (2012) Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). London: DfE.

Naughton, J. (2012) Why all our kids should be taught how to code. [online]. The Observer. Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2012/mar/31/why-kids-should-be-taught-code [Accessed 05.12.13].

Music Session 2 – How music apps and technology can be used in the early years classroom

Music can be used across the curriculum in the classroom, and is particularly important in the Early Years. The government are putting a large emphasis on the importance of music in the curriculum, and believe that the key to encouraging children to be lifelong participants of music, as well as enjoy and appreciate it, is to start teaching from the early years (Department for Education, 2011). It can be combined with technology, for example music apps, to enhance music sessions in the classroom. Some ideas of how music can be used in the classroom, along with links to musical apps and electronic based resources are listed below, including an analysis of the benefits of using technology within music sessions.

Follow the Leader:

Music can be used to gain children’s attention at the start or during a lesson. The teacher can start doing some actions, getting the children to copy what they are doing (‘Follow the Leader’). As an extension, this activity could be carried out in a music lesson, using backing music to get children to perform actions in time to a beat. The children could also have a go at leading the class. This activity helps with listening and concentration for young children as they have to watch closely what you are doing. I observed this on placement, where the teacher used a tambourine before transitions to gain the children’s attention. I adopted this strategy when leading the class and would often use the tambourine to get the children to do different clapping rhythms. I would often start the lesson with some actions and rhymes getting the children to follow me. For example; “Touch your head, touch your toes, touch your fingers, touch your nose, fold your arms, looking at me, ready to listen, one, two, three!” I found this strategy very effective at getting the children’s attention and focus instantly, more so than using my voice alone.

‘Finger Drums’ music app:

The finger drums app can be used to create a percussion music piece. The children can play a piece and record their composition by putting the drum symbols in the correct order. This activity could be completed in pairs so that one child could create the music piece (put drum symbols in order) and the other child could follow this to play the music piece using the finger drums app. Other instruments could be added along with this as an extension. This could be done as a teacher led activity with the teacher playing a simple music piece and getting the children to come up with suggestions as to how this could be developed further. An audio recording of a percussion piece that we created as a group is attached below.

Using a video clip as a stimulus for a music composition:

A picture or video clip could be used as a stimulus for a music piece. For example, it could be a short video clip of waves hitting off of a harbour wall. The children could use a combination of musical instruments, body percussion and everyday objects in the classroom to create a short music piece.  This could be carried out as a group activity, with each group being given a different video clip as a stimulus. Each group could record their composition and these could be shared to the whole class once completed, getting each group to guess what they thought the sound was. During the music session, as a group we created a composition of a steam train journey, shown below, starting from one station and stopping at the next. This involved changing the tempo (speed, getting faster then slower) and dynamics (volume, getting louder then quieter) and using different instruments, actions and our voices to create the different sound effects (e.g.) steam, movement of wheels, sound of tracks etc. An audio recording of this composition is attached below.

Sing Up website:

Websites such as SingUp have backing tracks and songs that can be used to support music in the classroom. I used the SingUp magazine and CD on placement to support a whole class composition of the Dreidel Song during topic lessons on Hanukkah. We listened to the CD as a class before practicing singing the song in order for the children to become familiar with the words and the tune. As a whole class we practiced singing the words for the chorus and verse one at a time, after which the children came up with suggestions of actions we could do for each line. We then recorded a final composition, with the children singing along with actions. An audio recording of this is attached below. As an extension, some of the children could have been using body percussion instead of actions to follow the beat of the song whilst singing. Also, we could have listened to the SingUp CD to see if the children could identify which instruments were being used for the backing music. The children could have then developed their own backing track for the song and recorded this using a variety of musical instruments.

Appraising Music Interactive Sound Activities:

The Appraising Music interactive sound activities resource has been produced by the Welsh government and has a series of interactive activities which require the children to listen carefully to a variety of music pieces and identify aspects such as musical instruments being played and tempo (speed). This could be an independent activity, on the IWB or on individual computers, or one activity could be chosen for the whole class to complete during the starter or plenary. This is useful for developing children’s listening skills, for example when identifying musical instruments, and also their knowledge of key musical terminology such as temp or pace.

Virtual Keyboard:

The virtual keyboard interactive tool can be used to create music compositions with a piano sound, as well as other instruments such as the flute. This is useful for allowing children to explore the different pitches and sounds of a variety of musical instruments. This could be an independent activity for children to complete. As an extension, the children could be given a set of notes to play (the different letters) for the beginning of a song. They could work in pairs, so that one child followed the notes to play the beginning part, and the other finished the song with their own ending. This could be recorded and perhaps kept on a whole class blog. Alternatively, each pair could be given part of a song to play; this could be rehearsed before each pair played their part in an ordered sequence to create a whole class composition. To help the children develop an awareness of rhythm, they could use the drum backing beats whilst playing.

Musical Mysteries BBC Interactive Activities:

The Musical Mysteries programme is a lovely resource, as it gets the children to use music to help solve a mystery which is told through a story, therefore combining literacy with music. The children have to navigate through a series of activities, for example matching words to sounds and looking at rhythm, to help find the lost music piece. This is useful for developing children’s knowledge of music terminology, such as rhythm, along with their listening skills. This uses everyday sounds as well as musical instruments.

‘Rodent Choir’ Music Composer:

This ‘Rodent Choir’ composer is a fun of way to allow younger children to create simple music pieces, exploring pitch (high and low sounds). Children could complete this as an independent activity As an extension, their music could be audio recorded and played back to them, asking the child to identify the low and high sounds.

 

Analysis of the benefits of using technology in music sessions and links with the EYFS:

Combining the use of technology in music sessions can often engage and motivate children to participate. As many schools have limited resources, by using technology it increases the range of activities and resources that children have access to, therefore enhancing their musical experiences during primary school. For example, using the ‘Virtual Keyboard’ app allows children to explore and use the sounds from a variety of musical instruments that schools may not have access to. It also enables children’s work to be recorded and stored, which can provide children with a real sense of satisfaction, for example when replaying their audio recorded composition to the whole class, helping to increase their motivation to participate. Their work can then be shared with others, for example other classes within the school or to parents, by perhaps putting children’s work on a class blog. Finally, it encourages all children to participate, even those who do not particularly enjoy music and lack the confidence; by using computers, which most children are able to do, it reduces the pressure and can make music lessons more enjoyable and accessible to all children.

There are several valid links with the EYFS when combining music with technology.

Personal, Social and Emotional: Making relationships

If children are working in groups or pairs creating a piece of music, it has links with the PSED, making relationships, early learning goal.

Early Learning Goal: Children play co-operatively, taking turns with others. They take account of one another’s ideas about how to organise their activity. They show sensitivity to others’ needs and feelings, and form positive relationships with adults and other children.

Communication and Language: Listening and Attention

When children are completing activities such as ‘Follow the Leader’, this involves them listening carefully and maintaining attention in order for them to be able to follow instructions.

30-50 months: Joins in with repeated refrains and anticipates key events and phrases in rhymes and stories. • Focusing attention – still listen or do, but can shift own attention. • Is able to follow directions (if not intently focused on own choice of activity).

40-60 months+: Maintains attention, concentrates and sits quietly during appropriate activity. • Two-channelled attention – can listen and do for short span.

Physical Development: Moving and Handling

When children are handling musical instruments and using musical programmes on the computer or IWB, this helps improve their fine motor skills and co-ordination in both large and small movements. For example, playing the tambourine and using the ‘finger drums’ music app requires controlled movements.

Early Learning Goal: Children show good control and co-ordination in large and small movements.

Mathematics: Numbers

Counting can be incorporated into musical activities, for example, ‘Follow the Leader’ by counting the number of claps the children have to repeat.

Early Learning Goal: Children count reliably with numbers from one to 20.

Understanding the World: Technology

By using musical apps and computer software, children are learning how to use some forms of technology.

30-50 months:  Knows how to operate simple equipment, e.g. turns on CD player and uses remote control.

40-60 months+: • Completes a simple program on a computer. • Uses ICT hardware to interact with age-appropriate computer software.

Expressive Arts and Design: Exploring and using media and materials

By giving children the opportunity to explore the sounds of instruments, they can create their own musical compositions.

Early Learning Goal: Children sing songs, make music and dance, and experiment with ways of changing them.

Expressive Arts and Design: Being imaginative

Children can communicate meaning through the creation of music pieces, for example by providing them with a stimulus such as a video clip and allowing them to express how the feel about this with music.

Early Learning Goal: They represent their own ideas, thoughts and feelings through design and technology, art, music, dance, role play and stories.

(Early Education, 2012)

 

References:

Department for Education (2011) The Importance of Music: A National Plan for Music Education. London: DfE.

Early Education (2012) Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). London: DfE.

Art Session 2 – Artist David Miller’s ‘Above and Below the Water’ paintings… a source of inspiration for art in the early years

A single picture can provide a great source of inspiration, form which thematic planning can be carried out, creating a range of creative activities and ideas for children to implement in the classroom. This is encouraged by a recent nationwide scheme created by the National Gallery for primary schools called, ‘Take One Picture’. School’s are supplied with a picture from an artist, and are challenged with creating a scheme of work based on this, using it for art as well as other areas of the curriculum. Training is provided for teachers as part of their on-going professional development. I have used a similar principle to this scheme, selecting the artist David Miller and coming up with a range of activities to combine learning in both the creative expressive arts and digital technologies.

A bit about David Miller…

The majority of David Miller’s work is of different seascapes. He has a unique style producing distinctive paintings with bright, vivid colours against realistic backgrounds. I feel that this artist would provide a great source of inspiration for art in the early years classroom. Most children are fascinated by the ocean, and as the paintings are detailed with lots of different elements, using bright colours, they would hopefully capture their attention and imagination. David Miller has a range of paintings titled ‘Above and Below’, which capture the scene both below and above the water surface, providing inspiration for a variety of activities combining and comparing the two ‘worlds’. Some paintings from this collection can be seen below.

David Miller, Sanctuary
David Miller, Sail Away

How David Miller’s artwork could be used as a source of inspiration in the early years classroom…

Finger paintings… for younger children, finger paintings are an accessible form of art for all children; they enjoy the process of making their pictures and are not inhibited by using paintbrushes or other tools which rely on good control of fine motor skills that most young children find difficult and frustrating. The children could use acrylic paints, helping them to create the bright vivid colours used in David Miller’s paintings.

This activity will allow children to explore using different mediums, paint and their fingers, to create simple shapes and patterns on paper. By looking at the artist’s work, they can observe key elements and try and incorporate this into their paintings, creating with a purpose in mind. Therefore, there are clear links with ‘Expressive Arts and Design’ within the EYFS, in particular, ‘Exploring and using media and materials’.

Exploring textures… the different textures under the sea, for example the roughness of coral and the smoothness of fish scales, can be recreated by the children, encouraging them to use and manipulate a variety of mediums to create different effects. Children could create collages by collecting different materials from around the classroom and the outside environment. For example, to create coral, children could collect pieces of bark and twigs and experiment by sticking them together to make different shapes. Silky fabrics and shiny paper could be cut out and stuck together to make fish scales. Key vocabulary could be used, such as rough, smooth, bumpy to describe the children’s creations. These words could be used as part of a display looking at different ‘textures’. As this activity involves cutting, sticking and manipulating materials, this would have links with ‘Physical Development’ within the EYFS, helping to develop children’s fine motor skills. There are also links with ‘Expressive Arts and Design’, for example ‘Understanding that different media can be combined to create new effects’.

Patterns… the patterns on the colourful fish in David Miller’s paintings could be examined by the children to help them come up with their own patterns. These could be drawn onto blank paper or the children could create their own patterned fish, depending on the ability of the children. The children could use a variety of mediums to do this, for example oil pastels, crayons, paints and felt tips as well as tools to print with, for example stickle bricks or wooden blocks. The artwork could also be taken outside the classroom, where children could use coloured chalks to create different patterns on the playground.

This has clear links with ‘Expressive Arts and Design’, as well as ‘Mathematics’ (‘Numbers’) as children could create a repeating pattern sequence, and ‘Mathematics’ (‘Shape, Space and Measure’) by allowing children to create an explore different shapes within their patterns.

Soundscapes… children could create ‘soundscapes’ using their own painting based on David Miller’s above and below seascapes or using one of his paintings as a stimulus. The class could be split into two groups, with each half completing a soundscape for one part of the picture. The children could use musical instruments or everyday items in the classroom to create the sound they think they would be able to hear if they stepped into the picture. This would involve exploring pitch and tempo of different sounds and adjusting them as necessary to create a realistic soundscape. Technology could be used to audio record both groups’ soundscapes. Computer software could then be used, with assistance from the children, to adapt the sounds by altering the volume, pitch or merging both soundscapes together. This activity would have clear links with ‘Expressive Arts and Design: Exploring and using media and materials’, for example ‘Children make music and experiment with ways of changing them’, with the ICT element encompassing ‘Understanding the World: Technology’.

Combining photography with illustrations…the vivid backgrounds that look similar to ‘real life’ in David Miller’s paintings could be used as a stimulus for children creating their own seascapes. Children could use ICT to find and select a photograph of an ocean background, print this, and use different mediums such as paints, oil pastels or wax crayons to draw sea creatures, fish and seaweed onto the photograph. By combining different mediums, photographs with drawings, children would be able to compare the different effects that each created on their own and when combined. This would have clear links with ‘Expressive Arts and Design’, ‘Understands that different media can be combined to create new effects’. By using ICT and the internet to find images, this would also have valid links with ‘Understanding the World: Technology’.

Creating their own ‘above and below’ pictures… the children could work in small groups to create their own ‘above and below’ paintings. Some groups could create the scene above the water, and some could create the scene below the water. These could be created using different mediums, giving the children freedom to choose what they want to use and explain why they think this is the most suitable medium. These could be collated in a large spiral bound book to create a flip book, with the above and below scenes separated so that they were interchangeable to create different images. This could be displayed in the classroom so that the children were able to change the image everyday. This could be used as a stimulus for storytelling and writing in literacy.

The children could also create a whole class picture, with some children working together to paint the background, and others drawing things in the foreground. This could be drawn on acetate sheets using coloured markers. This could be built up in layers by overlapping and overlaying some acetate sheets to create a more 3D effect. When completed the picture could be photocopied, incorporating the use of technology.

The pictures could be scanned into the computers for the children to edit. They could do this using simple software and adjusting aspects such as the brightness, saturation and hue, experimenting with the different effects this creates. Different versions could be saved and compared, and the children could look at adjusting the top and bottom half of their pictures separately, for example to make it darker under the water.

This has clear links across both ‘Expressive Arts and Design’ as children are creating a picture with a pre-planned purpose in mind, using different mediums, as well as using technology to edit their work, linking with ‘Understanding the World: Technology’.

Creating a 3D underwater scene… the children could work in groups to create their own 3D underwater scene in shoe boxes. They could go on a nature walk to collect natural resource from the outdoor environment that they could use. For example, leaves for seaweed and pebbles or stones for coral. They could use resources in the classroom as well, and combine natural resources with other mediums such as paint to achieve a different effect, for example painting stones in bright colours to imitate coral rock. An example of an underwater scene is shown below. This would have clear links with ‘Expressive Arts and Design: Exploring and Using Media and Materials’ as children would be ‘constructing with a purpose in mind’, ‘select and use a variety of resources’, ‘use simple tools and techniques to shape, assemble and join materials they are using’. It also has links with ‘Physical Development: Moving and Handling’ as it involves using control in small movements (fine motor skills) to ‘use simple tools to effect changes to materials’ and ‘handle tools, objects, construction and malleable materials safely and with increasing control’.

Underwater Scene

Importance of teaching art in the early years…

Art is an important part of the EYFS and overlaps into several areas of learning, as demonstrated above. It helps to teach children key skills that can be used across all subjects. For example, it encourages children to have open minds and see things from different perspectives which can help with problem solving as children may recognise there is often more than one solution or answer. Also, it encourages children to pay attention to details and make good, informed judgements rather than relying purely on rules, helping them with decision making (Butterworth, 2012).

Research suggests that creative activities help encourage more rapid brain development in young children, therefore making this an essential element of the EYFS. This is believed to be because, connections within the brain are formed at a faster rate when creative thinking is performed. This leads to improved self-esteem, mental health, positive attachments in relationships and more well-rounded individuals. Music is also thought to improve competency in numeracy, as the same areas of the brain are used (Early Arts, n.d.).

 

References:

Butterworth, L. (2012) Why do we teach art, craft and design? NSEAD. Accessed online [16.12.13] http://www.nsead.org/Downloads/EBulletinNov23.pdf

Early Arts (n.d.) Creativity in Early Brain Development. Early Arts. Accessed online [16.12.13]http://earlyarts.co.uk/philosophy/creativity-early-brain-development/

Early Education (2012) Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). London: DfE.

Art Session 2 – Reflection on session

During out second art session we looked at the different ways that Art can be incorporated into the EYFS, focusing in particular on how art can be used to convey and express meaning, the different sources of inspiration that artists use, and that can be used, to create art within the classroom and how music, technology and art can be combined. During the session we were able to test some of these ideas, creating collaborative pieces of art in small groups, providing inspiration and ideas that could be applied in the early years classroom.

Mark making…

At the beginning of the session we investigated how art can be used to convey meaning. Rebecca read a short story, during which we had a large piece of paper and a variety of crayons and coloured pencils to make marks with to illustrate what was happening in the story. An image of this can be seen below.

Story telling through mark making

This approach would be useful for young children, particularly those who are developing their fine motor skills and are less confident in art. It would also assist children in re-telling a story (creating a ‘story board’) and provide them with inspiration for their own independent and guided writing.

Another activity we completed during the session involved mark making using different coloured paints with objects such as balls and straws. This involved rolling and dipping the balls and straws in paint, and experimenting with the different ways of transferring the paint from the object onto the paper by rolling, throwing, splattering and dropping. Pictures of the process of creating the ‘mark making’ painting and the final result can be seen below.

Creating our ‘Mark Making’ painting
‘Mark Making’ Painting

Young children would enjoy the process of creating their ‘mark making’ painting and are likely to be pleased with their final result as there is no right or wrong way of creating this. Children could experiment with the different patterns that different instruments, for example using balls of different sizes and with different surface markings. This activity could be made more challenging for more able children, by giving them a stimulus or picture to create using the different mark making techniques.

This has obvious links with Expressive Arts and Design: Being imaginative, as children can interpret the story as they wish and communicate their thoughts and feelings about it through a series of simple pictures.

Early Learning Goal: They represent their own ideas, thoughts and feelings through design and technology, art, music, dance, role play and stories.

It also has links with elements of Literacy: Reading, as it helps to improve children’s language comprehension, as they are engaging with the reading material (doing something with it).

Early Learning Goal: They demonstrate understanding when talking with others about what they have read.

Using ‘lines’ as an inspiration for art work…

Inspiration for art can be sought from many sources and can be very simple. This approach is useful when planning art in the Early years to ensure that it is accessible and relevant to the children’s interests and abilities. During the session, we created a group art piece around the theme of ‘lines’. We chose to focus on spiral shaped lines, and used a variety of mediums and materials to create this. A picture of our art work, and the making process, is displayed below.

Making our spiral ‘line’ art work
‘Spiral Lines’

This activity would be accessible to most children, and could be differentiated for different abilities and age ranges. For example, less able and younger children could use their fingers to create the art work, therefore not restricting or inhibiting their creativity with the use of paint brushes and pencils that they may find difficult to use. More able children could be given a wider variety of tools and mediums and could incorporate different types of lines into their picture. This is a great activity for building children’s confidence in their ability to use different tools and mediums and gives them the freedom to be creative, imaginative and expressive as the theme ‘lines’ is fairly open and can be interpreted in different ways by the children.

This has several links with the EYFS, in particular, Expressive Arts and Design: Exploring and using media and materials. Different vocabulary could also be introduced to the children through this activity, as they may choose, for example, to create different ‘textures’ in their art work.

Early Learning Goal:  They safely use and explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques, experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and function.

There are also clear links with Expressive Arts and Design: Being imaginative. By completing this activity, children are able to apply their knowledge about different mediums and materials and independently choose what they want to use to create their art work.

Early Learning Goal: Children use what they have learnt about media and materials in original ways, thinking about uses and purposes.

Using an image as a stimulus for a musical, expressive piece…

Looking at another artists’ work, for example a still photograph or image, can provide inspiration. During the session, we looked at Damien Hirsts’, ‘The physical impossibility of death in the mind of someone living’. As a group we had to find materials around us (everyday items) to make a short music piece to describe the mood of this photograph. This is an example of how music can be combined with art. Technology can be used in addition; for example, recording the music piece and using a program to edit the sound.

This activity would help children to convey meaning and expression through a creative form. This would have valid links with the EYFS, in particular with Expressive Arts and Design: Being imaginative.

Early Learning Goal: They represent their own ideas, thoughts and feelings through design and technology, art, music, dance, role play and stories.

 

References:

Early Education (2012) Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). London: DfE.

Music Session 1 – Instrumental Composition

During our first music session we created a short music piece as a group, using different instruments including the tambour, tambourine and xylophone, playing to a steady beat and rhythm. Children could carry out this activity in the classroom independently, allowing them to explore the sounds of different instruments. A backing tape could be used to encourage them to play along to a steady beat.

Music Session 1 – The Going Home Song

Music can be used effectively in the early years to help promote learning in all areas. During our first music session we created a group music composition using different instruments including the tambourine, xylophone and tambour, following a steady beat and rhythm, a video of which can be seen below. This activity could be applied in the Early Years classroom to allow children to become familiar with the different sounds and pitch of a variety of musical instruments and play to a steady rhythm.

We created an early years song as a group to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. This was believed to be appropriate as it is a popular tune that most children will know. We decided to create a going home song that talked about the different ways of going home, which could be personalised for each child in the class. We used percussion instruments to create an acoustic accompaniment. We came up with the following lyrics for our early years song:

We’ve had such a wonderful day

Learning Lots, while we play

Grab your coat, grab your bag

It’s time for home, don’t be sad/ aren’t we glad/ it’s been fab

How are we getting home today?

Tell us ____ (train/bus/bicycle e.t.c…) let’s be on our way! (DO ACTIONS) 

 

This rhyme can be extended in many ways. For example, the name of the child and method of transport can be changed for every verse. As demonstrated in our video, actions can also be carried out whilst singing the rhyme; the children could come up with their own ideas for the actions they could use. The percussion accompaniment could be re-recorded by the children, using a variety of instruments, and getting them to think about the beat and rhythm of the tune whilst playing. Some of the lines in the song could also be changed, for example the things the children might do before they go home; “Grab your coat, grab your bag” could be changed to “Tidy my tray, tidy my table”. The rhyme could also be used in mathematics, creating a display board with a chart on it showing all the different ways children get home from school. Each day this could be amended and the children could count how many children used each mode of transport.

This song has valid links across the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). For example, links with Communication and Language, in particular Listening and Attention; “Joins in with repeated refrains and anticipates key events and phrases in rhymes and stories” (30-50 months). It has links with Personal Social and Emotional Development, including Self-Confidence, “Children are confident to try new activities and confident to speak in a familiar group” (40-60 months +) and “Can communicate freely about own and home community” (30-50 months) relating to them talking about how they get home. It has links with physical development, when doing actions with the songs; “Children show good control and coordination in large and small movements” (40-60 months +). As children are talking about transportation methods, this links to Knowledge of the World, People and Communities; “Children talk about past and present events in their own lives and in the lives of family members” (40-60 months +). The Maths display would have links with Number; “count reliably with numbers from one to twenty” (40-60 months +). Finally it has links with the Expressive Arts and Design, Using Media and Materials, as the children would sing the rhyme and change aspects of it as an extension activity; “Children sing songs, make music and dance and experiment with ways of changing them” (40-60 months +).

Art Session 1 – How art, digital literacy and outdoor experiences can promote learning in the early years

Art, digital literacy and outdoor experiences can be combined to promote learning in the Early Years in several ways, some examples of which will be reviewed.

Story Trails:

Firstly, the use of story trails is an example of how placing objects in an outdoor environment can stimulate the curiosity and imagination of children, allowing them to create their own story. This can be captured by a series of images or video, an example of which can be seen in the story trail we created, a link to this being shown in a previous post “Poppy’s Walk with her Magical Scarf”, on 20.09.13. Using the natural environment as a source of inspiration, it enables children to come up with ideas with very little input, materials or resources. Therefore, by doing this activity outdoors it may encourage children to be more imaginative than if they were within a confined environment such as a classroom. This would fall under the category of Expressive Arts and Design within the EYFS, however has several cross-curricular links. For example, the use of communication and language and literacy to communicate their story through the use of role play (acting it out). This is a lovely activity as it is different from the typical work associated with primary art, drawing and painting. It is also advantageous as it may appeal to different learning styles, for example children who prefer to learn practically (use of role play). Also, some children dislike Art as they believe they cannot draw, and therefore lack the confidence to engage in painting and drawing. This activity is a useful alternative so that all children can be involved in expressive arts and design activities.

Research:

Recently, a lot of research has been conducted, highlighting the benefits and possibilities when combining subjects such as art with outdoor experiences to promote learning. Forest schools are becoming popular options for educating young children, as they provide opportunities that are not readily available in the class room environment (O’Brien, 2009). This can help improve children’s self-esteem and confidence. For example, the lessons involve more child initiated and child led activities than adult-led, therefore encouraging children to have a go, learning through exploration and increasing independence. Being outside has health benefits, such as being more active, and can have a positive impact on the well-being of the child. These things are fundamental to learning; a poor well-being makes it harder for children to learn. It also promotes team-work, encouraging children to take turns, skills that are vital both in and outside of the classroom. This type of learning appeals to children who are practical learners and can promote learning for SEN children, including those who are autistic, as they may learn more than being in a confined environment such as the class room.

Edwards (2013) believes that using the outdoors can help increase imagination and provide a source of inspiration for children, helping them to produce work that they would not have produced in the class room. By combining Art with ICT, this provides an alternative for children who are not confident with drawing and is useful for children with a particular interest in ICT.

Lesson Idea:

A possible lesson idea combining art, digital literacy and outdoor learning could be to get the children, working in pairs or small groups, to create a home for a small animal outdoors, for example a hedgehog. As an introduction and stimulus for this activity, you could talk about how hedgehogs need shelters to live in and show them a short video showing the type of shelter they need; for example, The Wildlife Garden Project – How to help hedgehogs in your garden. You could then take the children out into the school grounds and get them to create their own hedgehog shelter. This would involve collecting natural materials from the environment and constructing a suitable structure, using the video as a source of inspiration. Photographs could be taken whilst the children were completing the activity. Back in the classroom, the children could look at their pictures and explain how they created their hedgehog shelter; create a set of instructions. It would be more appropriate to do this through talk rather than writing in the early years, and videos could be recorded of this. Therefore, this lesson would combine art (creating shelter) and digital literacy (making instruction video) using the outdoor environment as a source of inspiration.

The advantages of this lesson includes that it allows the children to use their creative skills to make something, appealing to children who are practical learners. By watching the video it provides the children with some information about hedgehog shelters which they can use as a source of inspiration, however there is no set of instructions provided, allowing the children to use their imagination. As this activity is linked to an animal, the children are more likely to be engaged. The shelters could be kept after the lesson and re-visited regularly to check if they had been used, the possibility of which would excite the children. Finally, by allowing the children to use talk to give their instructions, it does not disrupt their flow of thought as writing would in the early years, where children would be more focused on the words they were writing than how they made the shelter.

The main weakness of this activity is that not all children learn best through doing things (not all are practical learners). However, most children would be engaged with the activity, therefore enjoying it, making it more memorable and increasing the likelihood of them learning something from it. Another possible problem could be that the shelters may become damaged, therefore if re-visiting the children may find this upsetting or frustrating.

Conclusion:

After considering the possibilities of combining art, outdoor learning and digital literacy to promote learning in the early years, as well as the advantages and possible weaknesses, it is evident that it should be part of children’s learning in schools. Using the outdoors provides a constant source of inspiration, inspiring curiosity and imagination in children. Using non-traditional activities in art can appeal to children who lack the confidence of being able to draw. Pictures and other media, such as video, are a useful tool in literacy. These activities mainly appeal to the practical learner, so other learning styles should be considered and catered for.

References:

Edwards, J. (2013) Teaching Primary Art, London: Pearson.

O’Brien, L. (2009) Learning Outdoors: The Forest School Approach. In International Perspectives on Outdoor and Experiential Learning, Education 3-13: International Journal of Primary, Elementary and Early Years Education, 37 . 1, p.45-60.